Rival factions of the Janata Samajbadi Party-Nepal refused to reconcile their differences before the Election Commission and asked the poll panel to decide which of them was the authentic party.

The EC summoned both factions today after the Upendra Yadav-Baburam Bhattarai faction of the party filed a petition at the EC seeking its recognition.

Earlier, the EC had sought response from the Mahantha Thakur-Rajendra Mahato faction on the claims of the rival faction. The Thakur-Mahato faction also claims to be the authentic party.

Yadav and Thakur had expelled each other from the party for indulging in anti-party activities.

Yadav had also expelled other influential leaders from the rival faction - Mahato, Laxman Lal Karna, and Sarvendranath Shukla - from the party.

Election Commission Spokesperson Raj Kumar Shrestha said his office would form a bench to hear arguments of both sides and to take a call on the authenticity dispute.

The EC summoned both sides as per Article 44 of the Political Party Act that stipulates that the poll panel can try to reconcile differences between the rival factions of the political parties.

JSP-N leader Rajendra Mahato said his faction was for maintaining party unity, but the Yadav-Bhattarai faction was trying to split the party. He said the JSP-N was formed because Yadav feared that his Samajbadi Party-Nepal would split as some SP-N leaders were about to join the KP Sharma Oli government.

"Ironically now, Yadav is hell bent on splitting the party," Mahato said. He said SJP-N was formed to create an alternative political force that could champion the cause of the marginalised groups and communities.

He hoped that the EC would recognise his faction as the authentic JSP-N.

The factional feud between the two camps intensified after the Thakur-Mahato faction backed the Oli government, whereas the Yadav-Bhattarai faction supported Nepali Congress President Sher Bahadur Deuba's bid for prime ministership in May.

However, President Bidhya Devi Bhandari dissolved the HoR on May 22 after deciding that neither Oli nor Deuba could win the vote of confidence. The Yadav-Bhattarai faction of the JSP-N called dissolution of the HoR a regressive step, whereas leaders from the Thakur- Mahato faction joined the Oli government.

When the Yadav-Bhattarai faction claimed it had majority in the party's executive committee, the Thakur-Mahato faction 'expelled 20 members from the executive committee to acquire majority in the party's top body.

The Yadav-Bhattarai faction accused the Thakur-Mahato faction of forging documents to prove majority in the executive committee.

JSP-N leader Mahendra Ray Yadav, who is close to Yadav, said his faction told rival faction leaders at the EC that it was for maintaining party unity, but the Thakur-Mahato faction must admit its mistakes, back the five-party alliance, and call dissolution of the HoR a regressive step. However, the rival faction wanted the EC to decide which faction was the authentic party.

A version of this article appears in the print on July 7 2021, of The Himalayan Times.